- November 16, 2006
- What is typically considered a threat to women's health has taken the life of her father, grandmother, and two sisters. But the diagnosis of her 25-year-old nephew with breast cancer last fall marked an undeniable four-generation family history of breast cancer and a turning point in Rose West's thinking.
In an upcoming procedure, 39-year-old West will have a preventative double mastectomy to decrease her risks for developing breast cancer.
"Up to this point, I felt protected," says West, who had her ovaries removed six years ago and has been taking an estrogen-blocking drug as precautions in addition to countless mammograms, MRIs, and self exams.
"You just know the time is right," West says. "It helped my decision to have a local option for the leading breast reconstruction surgery too," she continues.
During an 8 to 10 hour surgery, West will have breast tissue removed as well as undergo the latest breast reconstruction option using the DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap technique. Offered at limited locations in the U.S., West's procedure will take place at nearby Sentara Obici Hospital located in Suffolk, Virginia.
Unlike traditional breast reconstruction, which uses abdominal muscle to reconstruct the breast, the DIEP makes use of abdominal skin and fat only. This microsurgery spares abdominal muscles altogether, reducing the risk of abdominal weakening or hernia that can make it difficult to sit up from a lying position, often associated with other breast reconstruction options.
Family history is one of the greatest risk factors for breast cancer. Carriers of mutated genes BRCA 1 or 2 genes are three to seven times more likely to develop breast cancer in her lifetime, according the National Cancer Institute. Breast Cancer Stats
The highest incidence of cancer in women is breast cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, in 2005 approximately 211,240 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.
Approximately 77% of all breast cancers occur in women over age 50.
According to the National Cancer Institute, lifetime risk of breast cancer in women is 13.2%.
Women with an altered BRCA 1 or BRCA2 gene are 3 to 7 times more likely to develop breast cancer than the general population, according to the National Cancer Institute. Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
Age. Women are more likely to be diagnosed after age 50.
Heredity. Women who tested positively for mutations in BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes are at greater risk3 to 7 times more likely to develop breast cancer.
Family history. Women who have close relatives with breast cancer are more likely to develop breast cancer.
Increased alcohol consumption
Sentara Healthcare is the regions leading not-for-profit health care provider. For more information about DIEP Flap procedure view the ExploreHealth with Sentara medical breakthrough page
and scroll down to October 2006. 59/2006